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England’s Covid test and trace relying on inexperienced and poorly trained staff

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England’s test and trace service is being sub-contracted to a myriad of private companies employing inexperienced contact tracers under pressure to meet targets, a Guardian investigation has found.

Under a complex system, firms are being paid to carry out work under the government’s £22bn test and trace programme. Serco, the outsourcing firm, is being paid up to £400m for its work on test and trace, but it has subcontracted a bulk of contact tracing to 21 other companies.

Contact tracers working for these companies told the Guardian they had received little training, with one saying they were doing sensitive work while sitting beside colleagues making sales calls for gambling websites.

One contact-tracer, earning £8.72 an hour, said he was having to interview extremely vulnerable people in a “target driven” office that encouraged staff to make 20 calls a day, despite NHS guidance saying each call should take 45 to 60 minutes.

Another call centre worker, who had no experience in healthcare or emotional support, said she suffered a nervous breakdown during an online tutorial about phoning the loved ones of coronavirus victims in order to trace their final movements.

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Source: The Guardian, 14 December 2020

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What a terrible and totally inexcusable waste of public funds.

Will anyone be held to account for this failing? 

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